Penn men’s basketball kept its dreams of making the inaugural Ivy League Tournament alive with a convincing 96-72 win over Brown.
The Quakers came out fast and strong, blowing the door open with a 17-8 lead. The Bears came back into it with a run of their own, but it was nothing compared to Penn’s mega-run to end the half — 27 points to the hosts’ two.
They didn’t look back, either. The Red and Blue finished the job to stake their claim for the top four. Results around the conference left Penn in a two-way tie for fifth, just one game behind fourth, and despite a tough trip to Yale on slate for tomorrow, the Quakers are the in-form team in the league. Time will tell whether they have the mettle to make it to the Palestra on March 13.
Here’s five lessons learned from the team’s destruction of Brown:
Move over, AJ — there’s a new contender for Rookie of the Year:
Ryan. Betley. Wow.
There was nothing Penn’s new sharpshooter couldn’t do on Friday night. 28 points, including six from three, seven rebounds and four assists. Did I mention he shot 60 percent from downtown? Unreal. His performance was only matched by sophomore Jackson Donahue's, who dug up a treasure trove of three-pointers — albeit once the game was all but over.
But Betley has been growing in his influence every game now, with his masterclass at Brown the latest in a series of steps forward. The season isn't over yet, but he's made a decent claim to be Penn's Rookie of the Year over fellow star AJ Brodeur.
Goodman can ball:
It was clear from Devon Goodman’s first collegiate minutes that he’d play a key role in Donahue’s team down the years, but the instant impact he’s made was totally unexpected. The rookie may not have started at Brown, but he was imperious: dribble-driving, passing, and even shooting from behind the arc. The kid did it all.
Coach Donahue’s finally got the right rotation:
A splash of Rothschild, a sprinkle of Jones, and a whole lot more of Goodman and Betley — these seem to be Donahue’s keys to success in recent weeks. After months of tinkering with the starting five, but also the bench rotation, Penn’s coach seems to have finally settled on the perfect recipe for winning in the Ivy League. And when the players have the time to settle into their places, chemistry becomes a huge bonus. That’s what appears to be happening with the Red and Blue this month.
The offense is no longer a one-man show:
For the first six games of Ivy League play, opponents double-teamed Brodeur — and it worked. No one else could step up to match the star freshman’s productivity, and the Quakers paid the price for it. But now with Goodman and classmate Ryan Betley in particular, along with Jackson Donahue coming back to life, stars are shining all over the court, making it hard for opponents to snuff out enough to stifle Penn’s attack.
Donahue’s dream of an inside-outside offense capable of dominating the paint and making it rain from deep looks like it's finally coming true. And that could mean the world in the final stretch in the chase for that fourth and final tournament spot.
Penn looks like it could be the team to defy the odds:
Rock-bottom after six games, even we had written this team off. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Quakers have taken the bull that is the Ivy League by the horns and is almost halfway through a Mission Impossible: going from 0-6 to finish in fourth place and make the Ivy League Tournament.
They’ll need to end up at least at 6-8, though 7-7 would nearly seal the deal. So at 3-6 in the conference, they’ve still got work to do, but they’ve got all the momentum and look like a whole new team. Next Saturday at current fourth-place Columbia should be fun.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.